Lindera benzoin 'Rubra'

Common Name: spice bush 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Lauraceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 6.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: March
Bloom Description: Brick red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant, Good Fall
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Heavy Shade, Clay Soil


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in part shade. Fall color is best with more sun. Tolerates full shade, but habit becomes more open and wide-spreading. Also tolerant of full sun, but good soil moisture is required.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lindera benzoin, commonly called spicebush, is a Missouri native deciduous shrub with a broad, rounded habit which typically grows 6-12' (less frequently to 15') high in moist locations in bottomlands, woods, ravines, valleys and along streams. Clusters of tiny, apetalous, aromatic, greenish-yellow flowers bloom along the branches in early spring before the foliage emerges. Dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants), with the male flowers being larger and showier than the female ones. Flowers of female plants give way to bright red drupes (to 1/2" long) which mature in fall and are attractive to birds. Female plants need a male pollinator in order to set fruit, however. Drupes are very attractive, but may be hidden by the foliage until the leaves drop. Thick, oblong-obovate, light green leaves (to 5" long) turn an attractive yellow in autumn. Leaves are aromatic when crushed. The larva (caterpillar) of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly feeds on the leaves of this shrub.

Genus name honors Johann Linder (1676-1723), a Swedish botanist and physician.

Specific epithet comes from the Arabic vernacular word meaning aromatic gum.

'Rubra' is a male-flowered selection of spicebush from Hopkinton, Rhode Island. It has brick red flowers that will not set fruit. Its winter buds are red brown and darker than the species. 'Rubra' grows 6 to 12 ft. tall and wide.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Shrub borders, shade or woodland gardens, moist areas along streams or ponds, native plant gardens or naturalized plantings.